Sadness is not Depression


When someone claims that sadness is not depression, he probably thinks about the difference of the meanings of the words sadness and depression. It is most likely that what he has in mind is in line with the proverbial argument about the difference between a habitual drinker and an alcoholic. Habitual drinking is how the sociologist calls the habit. It is just a habit. On the other, drinking habitually may be construed as alcoholism. Alcoholism is rather unsavory and so is depression.

Sadness arguably is a state of emotion that has a negative connotation. To be sad is to feel a kind of a normal response to events that are unwelcome. There is nothing amiss about feeling sad. On the contrary, to feel happy with no end is suggestive of being out of one’s mind. The common and standard human experience is a combination of sadness and gladness in desirable blends.

Thus, sadness is just a part of a healthy emotional experience. The duration of an instance of sadness is quite important. The length of time that one should stay in the state of sadness over an unfortunate event depends on the gravity of the situation. A loss of a loved one warrants a longer time (a year or two at the most) than losing one hundred dollars (a day or two perhaps). Beyond normal duration, a simple case of sadness may be already deemed to be an extraordinary case warranting medical or psychiatric intervention.

Based on the foregoing discussion, one can also say that a reasonable cheerlessness is called sadness. Here, there is a reason that justifies the occurrence of sadness. Depression, on the other hand, finds no justification. It is a sickness of some kind that is usually traced to one’s state of mind. If this differentiation is accepted, then a clear delineation has been drawn.

However, some who are wont to play with words might find a playmate in the following interpretation. The word depression has a root word that is a verb. To depress implies a sort of lowering. Sadness is normally seen as an emotional lowering. Some of the expressions suggestive of this interpretation are ‘lonely’, ‘get up’ and ‘move on.’ Clearly, it is shown that sadness is depression in this sense. But again, this is just playing with words which is the habit of the philosophers.

Turning back, emotional states are worth an academician’s perusal especially if he is involved in the field of psychology. Recently, with the aid of brain technology researchers are looking for ways to explain occurrences of emotions. Specifically, they are interested in unraveling the emotional stimulus-response mechanism of the body and the bodily substances responsible for the occurrence of emotions.

While most of these studies are geared towards the understanding of emotions in general, it is widely believed that research findings will be used for financial gains. One can only sigh in exasperation over these attempts. At best, man is endowed with the capacity to overcome sadness without external help. It is his instinct. The ‘sadness is not depression’ claim has been analyzed here but none can be more illuminating than direct experience.